Thanet RNLI Community Safety

Huge Rise In Lifeboat Call-Outs To Water Users Requiring Assistance Compared With 2019

RNLI Lifeboats have faced a summer like now other with statistics revealing a huge increase in the number of people (water users***) requiring assistance by local lifeboat crews compared to the year 2019.

Lifeboat stations see increase in call-outs 

Based on incident reports (provisional)** submitted by RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, there was a 64% increase in the number of recreational water users assisted by the RNLI.  After every emergency call-out an incident return has to be submitted by the station detailing what the incident was about, the location, action taken etc).

COVID19 Coronavirus RNLICommunitysafety RNLIwatersafety Lockdown stayathomesavelifes Respectthewater Bewatereaware margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat margatecoastguard
RNLI Lifeguard Margate Beach – 2019: Photo credit: Thanet RNLI Community Safety Team
Lifeguards reported increase in beach visitor numbers

Lifeguards also reported seeing a significant increase in the number of visitors to beaches around the coast.  RNLI lifeguards working on two beaches in Thanet  carried out an unprecedented number of rescues -including 24 people rescued in a single day at Ramsgate Main Beach and carrying out a successful CPR on a six year old girl who had collapsed and stopped breathing at Botany Bay.

thanetlifeguards rnlicommunitysafety rnlirespectthewater rnliwatersafety margatelifeboat ramsgatelifeboat RNLI lifeboats coastalsafety respectthewater communitysafety watersafety drowningprevention

The Lifeguards also rescued a man in his 50’s at Botany Bay who was out of his depth and being hit against the chalk sea stack to the west of the beach.

On Friday, 31st RNLI lifeguards Neil Morgan (member of our Community Safety Team & Ramsgate Lifeboat crew) and Chris Wilson, patrolling on Ramsgate Main Beach, had to rescue 24 people who were in danger of being swept out to sea by rip currents.

Those rescued included children, adults and the elderly. In one incident, lifeguard Neil Morgan had to dive into the water with his rescue tube after spotting two children who had been caught in a rip current and were being swept towards the harbour entrance. Neil and Chris also escorted a further six children to safety.

RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety Lockdown COVID-19 bebeachsafe Margatecoastguard Thanetlifeguards Margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat birders birdwathers

In another incident lifeguards took to a rescue ATV (quad bike) to get close to a group of swimmers who were in danger and close to the harbour entrance and persuaded them to come to shore for their safety.

HM Coastguard reported the day as having the highest number of call-outs in four years.

NMOC Coastguard RNLICommunitySafety
National Maritime Operation Centre (NMOC) HM Coastguard

The statistics include people who got into trouble whilst :

  • Bodyboarding
  • Using inflatables
  • Kayaking,
  • Canoeing,
  • Kitesurfing
  • Paddleboarding,
  • Rowing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Water-skiing,
  • Windsurfing
  • Dinghy sailing.

RNLICommunitysafety RNLISeasafety RNLI Thanetlifeguards Salus RNLILifeguards beachsafety dogsafety lifejacketclinic Bewateraware Respecthewater Runnersandwalkers watersafety Seasafety Margatecoastguard Margatelifeboat ramsgatelifeboat

Biggest Increase this Summer in incidents involving inflatables

In the South East of England which includes covering 31 lifeboat stations stretching from the Thames to Swanage, saw the biggest increase the summer 2020 (June to August) in incidents involving inflatables.

During 2019 lifeboat stations in the South East launched 20 times to people in difficulty with inflatables and 26 people were helped. In 2020 there were 37 launches and 89 people aided – a 242.3% increase.

 

The second biggest increase was lifeboat launches to waterside activities which includes:

  • Paddling
  • Beach combing
  • Playing games
  • Horse riding
  • Cycling

 

  • In 2019 RNLI lifeboats in the South East launched 10 times to these types of incidents and helped nine people, in 2020 there were 14 launches and 28 people helped – an increase of 211.1%.

RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety Lockdown COVID-19 bebeachsafe Margatecoastguard Thanetlifeguards Margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat birders birdwathers

Paddle Boarding

The growing popularity of paddle boarding during 2020 is also reflected in the figures. In 2019 the South East’s lifeboats launched eight times and four paddle boarders were assisted. In 2020 the number of launches increased to 12 with 12 people also assisted by crews.

inflatables DPW Royallifesavingsociety Respectthewater RNLICommunitysafety RNLIwatersafety RNLIseasafety Thanetlifeguards beachsafety margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat

Inflatables are not designed for the coast!

The South East RNLI Water Safety Lead Guy Addington, said “the figures highlighted the dangers inflatables can pose at the coast and urged people to leave them at home in the future:

“Inflatables can be great fun, but they are not designed for the beach as it’s easy to get swept out to sea,’ As these figures demonstrate, inflatables are one of the most common reasons our lifeboat crews are called to action during the summer months”.

RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety Lockdown COVID-19 bebeachsafe Margatecoastguard Thanetlifeguards Margatelifeboat Ramsgatelifeboat birders birdwathers

Off-Shore Winds

‘They are particularly dangerous when there are strong offshore winds and there were a number of incidents around the South East this summer where people, in some cases children, suddenly found themselves being swept hundreds of metres offshore. Were it not for our lifeboat crews responding so quickly some of these incidents could easily have resulted in a tragedy. The best place to enjoy inflatables is in an enclosed area such as a swimming pool”.

In one particular incident in August, volunteers from Poole Lifeboat saved the lives of a teenage girl and her Father who were spotted some distance off-shore in the water with an inflatable.

As the light faded, time was of the essence and with a police helicopter hovering overhead as a marker, the lifeboat was on the scene in 12 minutes and rescued the pair who by that time had become separated from their inflatable.  They were cold and distressed and had been in the water for 40 minutes.

On the same day the crew also rescued a seven-year-old girl spotted drifting out to sea on an inflatable lollipop and an 11-year-old on an inflatable dinghy.

 

Margate & Ramsgate Lifeboats are often called out incidents involving inflatables

Both Margate and Ramsgate lifeboats are also often called to incidents involving inflatables during the summer months, several of which turn out to be beach toys drifting out to sea.  Both stations were kept busy during lockdown 1.0 with some days seeing their respective crew pagers going off more than once in a 24 hour period.

‘This is the other big concern with inflatable beach toys,’ explained Guy. ‘Often lifeboat crews are launched to inflatables drifting out to sea because of fears there could be people in the water. Extensive searches are often carried out only to discover the toys have been blown off the beach. This could mean the lifeboat crew are unable to respond to other, perhaps more serious, incidents”.

“With Christmas just a month away we’d urge anyone considering buying their loved one an inflatable to put safety first and make it clear it’s not to be used on the coast,” he added.

The RNLI’s Head of Water Safety, Gareth Morrison, said: ‘Our volunteer crews have been on call throughout the pandemic. This year, they faced a summer like no other.

‘When lockdown restrictions eased, we saw people flock to the beaches to enjoy our coastlines instead of holidaying abroad. But that resulted in a huge number of people getting into difficulty around our coasts, with our lifesavers facing an incredibly busy summer.

COVID19 CoronaVirus knowwhotocall respectthewater RNLIwatersafety RNLICommunitysafety RNLIseasafety Ramsgatelifeboat Margatelifeboat Bewateraware Broadstairsbeach margatebeaches ramsgatebeaches COVID19Thanet COVID19 Coronavirus

‘If you find yourself in trouble at the coast this winter, call ‘999’ and ask for the Coastguard.’

 

Personal protective Equipment – COVID-19

The RNLI has spent £1.2M on personal protective equipment this year to help keep its volunteers and lifeguards and the public safe during COVID-19, including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and 4,700 litres of hand sanitiser.  Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 risk assessments lifeboat fundraising events and shops have had to be cancelled and or shut (including Ramsgate and Margate’s fantastic fundraising teams).

RNLI Lifeboat Crews Still On-Call

RNLI Lifeboat crew have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep people safe as lockdown restrictions eased and people flocked to the coast. The RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives – and that support is needed now more than ever. The charity has launched its Christmas Appeal.  Why not find out more how you can help the RNLI this Christmas. Thanks for reading and stay safe.

respectthwater bannatyne broadstairs kent watersafety drowningprevention volunteers thanet RNLI Lifeboats socialmedia tides coastguard

Further useful Links

Margate Lifeboat

Ramsgate Lifeboat

Sign-up to our lifesaving e-newsletter

Why inflatables are not good for the seaside

 

 

Acknowledgements

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

HM Coastguard

Other information

**The complete statistics for lifeguards and lifeboats will be available in early 2021.

*** Waterside activities include paddling up to the knees, wading up to the chest, beach combing, cockle, mussel picking (not commercial) cycling, driving (or parked in vehicle) horse-riding, metal detecting, playing games (non-competitive), relaxing and rock pooling.

Out of date flares – How Do You Dispose Of Them Safely?

If you are a sailor, yachtsmen or other water sport enthusiast who has purchased flares or pyrotechnics, you will have asked …..”how should I dispose of flares or time expired pyrotechnics (TEP’s) safely”.

The advice is to firstly contact your supplier where you purchased the flares from and enquire whether they offer a ‘take back facility’ which may incur a small charge. Alternatively, speak with a life-raft maintenance centre or enquire with your council recycling centre.

 

If the flares are still unable to disposed of safely then you are recommended to contact your nearest Coastguard licensed site.  Please bear in mind that due to current COVID-19 safety protocols being operated by the HM Coastguard it may not be possible to dispose of them via this route at this time.

The nearest CGOC (Coastguard Operations Centre) for East Kent is based at Dover and can be contacted on 01304 210 008.

Other licensed coastguard disposal locations are as follows:

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: Buchan coastguard operations base) Tel: 01224 592 334.

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: Inverness coastguard operations base) Tel: 01224 592 334.

CGOC Aberdeen (licensed site: St Andrews coastguard operations base) Tel: 01224 592 334.

CGOC Belfast 02891 463 933.

CGOC Belfast (licensed site: Girvan coastguard rescue equipment store) 02891 463 933.

CGOC Falmouth 01326 317 575.

CGOC Falmouth (Licensed Site Paignton coastguard operations base) 01803 882 704.

CGOC Holyhead Tel: 01407 762 051.

CGOC Humber Tel: 01262 672 317.

CGOC Humber (North Norfolk coastguard operations base) Tel: 01262 672 317.

CGOC Milford Haven Tel: 01646 690 909.

CGOC Shetland Tel: 01595 692 976.

National Maritime operations centre (licensed site Daedalus training centre) Tel 02392 552 100.

CGOC Stornoway Tel: 01851 702 013.

London Coastguard operations base Tel: 02083 127 380

RNLI headquarters Poole Tel: 01202 336 336.

(Reference : Maritime Coastguard Agency website)

The HM Coastguard have no responsibility for flare disposal and will only accept a small number at their discretion from private indviduals and small independent fishing vessels.

On contacting the relevant CGOC they will ask the following questions:

  • Who you have previously contacted to arrange disposal
  • How many flares you need to dispose
  • How old are the flares
  • What condition are the flares in
  • If the CGOC can help, they will arrange for a time for you to deliver the flares to an appropriate base/location where staff will be able to accept them safely

You may be asked to travel a significant distance to attend a disposal site and wait several weeks

 

It is worthy to note not to turn up without an appointment at a HM Coastguard premises as you are likely to be turned away (not all premises are staffed 24/7) flares can’t be accepted from a business organisation.

 

Flares are highly dangerous

  • DO NOT dump carrier bags of flares on the doorstep of Coastguard Station’s, Coastguard Rescue Equipment Stores, Fire Stations, Police buildings or Lifeboat Station’s. Many of these locations maybe unstaffed and the dumping of potentially dangerous flares is a safety hazard and against the law. Irresponsibly discarded flares may be picked up by children who could be seriously injured or killed by an abandoned pyrotechnic. In one incident a military Explosive Ordnance Disposal team had to be called out to a device which had been left outside a Coastguard station which also put the Coastguard team unavailable for emergency calls.
covid-19 lockdown armybombdisposal counteried Royallogisticcorpsbombdisposal timeexpiredpyrotechnics legacy2ww secondworldwatbombthanet margatelifeboat margatecoastguard RNLICommunitysafety RNLIwatersafety
Photo Credit: Margate Coastguard Rescue Team
  • Do not put flares in household rubbish, garden waste or public litter bins. They can cause extensive damage to refuse collection facilities and may injure persons who come into contact with them. An incident involving a worker at a recycling centre found out to his cost.

As a reminder

  • It is illegal to fire flares on land or in a harbour; fire flares at sea for testing, practice or as fireworks
  • Damaged or out of date flares should never be used.
  • It is illegal to dump pyrotechnics at sea.
merseylifeboat RNLI RNLICommunitysafety ThanetRNLIcommunitysafety respectthewater
Margate’s All Weather Mersey lifeboat – Photo credit: Sarah Hewes

Every year lifeboat crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams are called out to the sighting of flares out at sea.  Whilst personnel from both organisations will never complain about being called out to an emergency or what looks to be someone in need of help, in whatever weather and at any time of the day or night they urge people not to let off flares at sea unless it is a genuine emergency.

Acknowledgements

HM Coastguard, Greenock Coastguard Rescue Team

RNLI

 

More useful links

HM Coastguard

British Sub-Aqua Club